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This Week at 148Apps: December 17-21

Posted by Chris Kirby on December 24th, 2012

'Twas the week before Christmas, and as everyone knows, Jeff Scott listed sale apps and watched that list grow: "As another year draws to a close, millions of people will find iOS devices and iTunes gift cards waiting for them under the tree. That means lots of people looking for apps and games to download and that means it’s time for a HUGE sale. This year does not disappoint with tons of apps and games on sale and a ton going free for Christmas week.

If you enjoy this list, feel free to tweet or share this post on Facebook.

Here are our picks from the best of the best apps and games on sale. And as a reminder, you can always find the latest apps and games on sale at our iOS Price Drops page."

Read the full list at 148Apps.com.

Then away to GiggleApps we ran with a dash, and checked in with Amy Solomon, who had this news flash: "The Night Before Christmas presented by One Hundred Robots is a personal favorite retelling of the classic holiday story of the same name.

If one were to check iTunes, one could find multiple apps adapting this traditional Christmas story, and this app is a top choice of mine for a few reasons.

Although I am not always a fan of computer generated animation, especially when it boasts a 3D effect.
I do, however, love the bright, colorful and wonderfully stylized look of this computer-generated app, with interesting photographic elements and textures along with a 3D look for a very interesting visual experience. There is a wonderful use of perspective, and the placement of that would be the camera if one were shooting live action as well, as quick camera movements highlights the benefits of working with computer graphics."

Read Amy's full review at GiggleApps.com.

Then at last we arrived at AndroidRundown, to see what was new in KickStarter-town: "Stands for smartphones are a very usual kickstarted project because they are all generally very simple and relatively cheap to make. We have done a few here for this blog post, and I was trying to stay away from them, but after seeing the crazy look of this week’s KickStarter Spotlight project I had to do it. This week I am showing off Simply Amplified’s Symphony Shells. They are 3-D printed phone stands that are shaped like real-life oceanic shells. They come in three separate forms, the urchin; small and spiked, the murex; arched and pointy, and the nautilus; square and twisting. All can be done in a very colorful and ornate tie-dye pattern or simply come in a solid or di-chromatic color scheme. My initial favorite is the nautilus simply because of its epic size and crazy spiky, square spiral. These really are very beautiful designs and any of them would display a smartphone with style and aplomb."

Read more about Symphony Shells at AndroidRundown.com.

So rest and relax, and don't even flitter - you can always find us on Facebook and Twitter. And when you wake from your drowse and your long Christmas naps, don't forget to check in with 148Apps.

Hildegard Sings Review

Posted by GiggleApps Staff on July 22nd, 2011
iPhone App - Designed for iPhone, compatible with iPad

Hildegard Sings is a really fun interactive storybook app from the developers at One Hundred Robots that includes a great story, some nice interactions and interesting extras. Options include narration or reading this book on one’s own, and it is nice that the sound effects and music used can still be enjoyed even with one reading this like a classic book, as well being able to turn on or off these sounds independently as well. Versions of this application are available for both iPad as well as iPhone.

Read the full review at GiggleApps.

Hildegard Sings Review

Posted by Amy Solomon on July 20th, 2011
iPad App - Designed for iPad

Hildegard Sings is a really fun interactive storybook app from the developers at One Hundred Robots that includes a great story, some nice interactions and interesting extras. Options include narration or reading this book on one’s own, and it is nice that the sound effects and music used can still be enjoyed even with one reading this like a classic book, as well being able to turn on or off these sounds independently as well. Versions of this application are available for both iPad as well as iPhone.

I really enjoy this story about Hildegard Rhineheffer, a hippo who works at a restaurant by day, but whose great passion is the opera, singing in the chorus. Finally, after preparing herself for this very moment, she has gotten the break she has hoped for a very long time - to star in the opera, in a performance in front of the queen, no less! Unfortunately, stage
fright sets in, and Hildegard loses her voice. Many pages of this interesting story include what Hildegard does to try and reclaim her lost voice as she is helped by her opera friends, equally concerned by her predicament. She tries to relax in a bubble bath, eating and drinking comfort foods, getting a new hat, and even going to a fortune teller, but nothing helps. Without giving anything away, the ending of this tale is really fun, especially the great reveal to the secret antidote given to Hildegard, already on stage, by the opera’s tenor.

This story will be loved by kids, but adults will equally appreciate Hildegard's situation. My favorite term for her stress level getting the better of her is “The Yips,” commonly used as a golf or other sports term as a player suddenly loses their abilities. This can sometimes be attributed to physical reasons; other times the problem is similar to that of a baseball
player turned choke hitter, psyching himself out at the plate. I have used this term outside of sports for when a person lets nervousness, fear, or self-doubt get in the way of doing something he was once good at or enjoyed. It is uncomfortable to admit that upon occasion, one may fall into this self-sabotages, and I appreciate this being dealt with in such a light and fun book. I see this type of behavior as my son’s friends refuse to join the group in an activity inexplicably, and as in the story of Dumbo and the use of the "magic” feather, these kids are already know how to "fly," and I love the ending of this book as a way I can touch upon this when I see my son acting like he has “The Yips” in social situations where his nerves can feel like stage fright.

This book is not only a very funny story, but interactions are also included which are nice as well, and I like that there is a subtle use of hints, pointing the reader in the direction of what is interactive, very well-done.

My favorite interactive moment in this application is when a stagehand is trying to lure Hildegard out of her dressing room. Each tap is answered by a line spoken by this stagehand. They are very witty and numerous, sounding like a never-ending supply of one-liners to get Hildegard to open the door, and I can honestly feel her discomfort. This scene, along with her expression and tears, really conveys her feelings, including how the one-liners are funny but the situation is also kind of sad. Other nice moments include popping balloons in Hildegard’s bath as well as the tossing of tomatoes at the stage as she worries about what will happen when she is performs.

Parents will greatly enjoy that this opera is none other than Wagner's Ride of the Valkyries, made famous in the Bugs Bunny cartoon, What's Opera, Doc? commonly referred to as “kill the rabbit.” The costume of breastplate, blond braids and horned helmet that Hildegard wears is unmistakable, as is the music which adds a nice sense of drama even for children who are not familiar with the cartoon.

This application can and will be enjoyed by the entire family. One does not need to use this story as a platform to talk about stage fright or "The Yips" as I would call it, but it is nice that one can reference this tale in this way if the situation arises.

Readers will also enjoy the extras included: a memory game where one turns cards over to make pairs, a wonderful series of opera posters staring Hildegard with sly humor parents will appreciate, as well as a nicely written epilogue, something I wish I saw more often in storybooks. A glossary of opera terms will also be added, something I am excited about.

I am happy that Hildegard Sings, a story based on a book now out of print, is available to iPhone and iPad users. I really enjoy this app. I have been a big fan of each of One Hundred Robot's applications, I am excited to see what they come up with in the future.

Cinderella - A Princess Story for iPone Review

Posted by Amy Solomon on March 31st, 2011
iPhone App - Designed for iPhone, compatible with iPad

Cinderella - A Princess Story for iPone from the developers at One Hundred Robots is a lovely retelling of the Charles Perrault classic tale of the same name. Options include listening to a narrator or reading to oneself. A menu is also available to help one find a specific page one may be looking for, always a nice touch. Music as well as hidden sound effects are nicely incorporated into this story book, and it is nice that they can be turned on or off independently of each other. “Virtual Character Cards” are included as well, much like baseball cards, which have additional information about these characters. More extras are planned for the future, including a matching game and a sing-along to be added at a later time. A version of this app is also available for iPad.

I do love the story of Cinderella. As I remember, it was my first book on record and I listened to it very often. To this day, whenever I hear the theme to Swan Lake, I think of Cinderella and I am happy to see that many developers have turned this classic tale into story book applications, typically adapting the well-known version by Charles Perrault which does not contain the darkness or graphic details of the Brothers Grimm version. I know both versions well and I am always interested to see how developers make this story their own, as I love to look at the grandeur that is the king's ball and all the other details included in this story.

This app does a lovely job of telling the tale of a girl who goes from being loved by family to becoming a mistreated stepdaughter, rising up from her situation with the help of a fairy godmother and the love of a prince. The narration is very well done here, as are the illustrations that are beautiful, colorful, and well-drawn. I appreciate that there is little animation used, so it really pops when it is introduced during Cinderella's transformation from disheveled to pristinely dressed and ready for the ball with the help of her fairy godmother. It is nice that many of these moments are designed to be interactive if the reader chooses, giving them the opportunity to use the godmother's magic wand in the interest of transforming such things as a pumpkin into a coach, or Cinderella's old shoes into glass slippers.

I appreciate that this story begins a bit earlier than most, introducing you to Cinderella as she was when her mother was alive and she had a happy life, also adding the information on how her father dies, leaving Cinderella alone with her hateful step-family. I like the addition of these details, as her back-story making Cinderella that much fuller of a character. I do try to shy away from exposing my son to the concept of the death of a parent, which is found commonly in classic fairy tales, but he seems none the worse for being exposed to this here as they don’t dwell on this point. I also enjoy the fact that at the end you see Cinderella many years later, happily married with a daughter of her own, this story coming full circle and ending in a way that is very satisfying.

This book also sets itself off from other versions of this story seen in app form because much of the page-turning does not cut it to different scenes of the story, but instead draws you through what would be considered to be a continuous take if this were a film, a very nice effect. Hidden sounds can be found which can include extra dialogue or ambient sounds, as well as other effects that add detail to this tale and some nice interactions are included as well, but what I especially like is the classical music used here. It does a great job of setting the tone of the story, changing as the mood of the story does and keeps the pace flowing in this lengthy storybook. This all makes the music a very effective element in the storytelling, especially when the book is read by oneself.

“Virtual Character Cards” are also a part of this app where one can read more about a specific character. The tone of these cards is quite a departure from the book itself, which is a serious adaptation of the story, as these cards are very tongue-in-cheek, parodying such things as American Idol or The Apprentice, which was a little too topical for my taste, but definitely humor that some adults or grade school children will enjoy. Some interesting facts are also incorporated into these cards, which I do like.

All in all, this is a very good variation of this classic tale that kids preschool thru grade school will enjoy. I hope One Hundred Robots continues to make such high quality children’s apps.